D&D Best Paladin Subclasses (Ranked Weakest To Strongest)

D&D Best Paladin Subclasses
There's a few of these and some are better than others

With nine different Oaths to choose from, building a powerful paladin can feel overwhelming at times. Luckily, I’ve ranked them all for you based on their subclass features, Channel Divinities, and Oath spells. Let’s dive in:

9. Oath of the Crown (Good)

Oath of the Crown Paladin by u/lalalyssh

First (and least on our list) is the Oath of the Crown. While every paladin oath can be useful in some way, Oath of the Crown is a subclass I would only take if the character was more important than their fighting capability. Sure, they still get Divine Smite and Extra Attack like all paladins but their Oath spells take a long time to get any traction and their Channel Divinity leaves something to be desired. 

What Oath of the Crown excels in:

  • Keeping themselves in the fight
  • Keeping their allies in the fight
  • Being less useful than the other Oaths

Choose Oath of the Crown if:

  • You plan on role playing your character as a paragon of law and order
  • Your paladin would sacrifice their own hit points for those of their allies
  • You think that you’ll make it to 20th level (Exalted Champion is actually pretty good but still not as good as the 20th level feature in other Oaths)

All in all, the Oath of the Crown subclass leaves a lot to be desired and I cannot wholly recommend it for min/maxers but purely from a role playing standpoint I think it can be used to create a compelling and entertaining paladin.


8. Oath of Redemption (Good)

Oath of Redemption Knight by u/rayezin

Next on my list is Oath of Redemption. This oath is similar to Oath of the Crown in that it makes for very interesting characters and role playing but a less-than-useful combatant. Canonically, they only use violence as a last resort and in a game that is built around fighting monsters… that can be detrimental. 

What Oath of Redemption excels in:

  • Diplomacy. It’s Channel Divinity Emissary of Peace adds a +5 to your Persuasion rolls which can sometimes help avoid a fight
  • Protection and Counter Caster. The only paladin subclass with access to counterspell as an oath spell plus its protective spell Otiluke’s resilient sphere make a Redemption paladin an asset on the battlefield
  • Continually inflicting damage on enemy combatants that attack you (at higher levels)

Choose Oath of Redemption if: 

  • Your character is a person of peace (Oath of Redemption are generally very nice folks who abhor violence)
  • You plan on being a tank more than a damage dealer
  • You like being able to passively deal damage at higher levels

At the end of the day, Oath of Redemption isn’t a bad subclass to choose, especially if one plans on role playing as a pacifist or reluctant combatant.


7. Oath of Glory (Good)

Oath of Glory by Wizards of the Coast

The jock of paladin subclasses, Oath of Glory is useful in combat but really starts to shine when bolstering allies both on and off the battlefield. With wonderful oath spells, a useful channel divinity, and passable subclass features, Oath of Glory is a great choice for any player who wants to embody a fantasy of an absolutely YOLKED knight.

What Oath of Glory excels in:

  • Buffing allies (no pun intended lol) with your channel divinity
  • Small amounts of healing beyond your usual Lay on Hands
  • The ability to not only mitigate damage to a nearby ally, but being able to turn the tables on the attacker all in one move

Choose Oath of Glory if:

  • You want to play the bodybuilder paladin
  • You enjoy being more than just a standard damage dealer
  • Being able to semi-passively heal allies appeals to you

With features that increase your abilities and that of your allies, Oath of Glory is a solid choice for any player chasing that specific fantasy. Of course, they are outpaced by the combat prowess of other subclasses but Oath of Glory paladins aren’t looking to be paragons of violence but rather paragons of might and they do it well.


6. Oath of Devotion (Excellent)

Tiefling Paladin, Oath of Devotion by u/gimblejam

With Oath of Devotion we’ve crossed into the “excellent” category of our list and it doesn’t disappoint. With strong channel divinity options, phenomenal oath spells, and decent subclass features, I would recommend Oath of Devotion to anyone looking for that “white knight” or “knight in shining armor” vibe. 

What Oath of Devotion excels at:

  • Destroyer of the Unholy. Oath of Devotion paladins usually pledge themselves to a god of goodness or law and therefore are in direct conflict with fiends and the undead and are uniquely equipped to deal with them due to their powerful channel divinity options. Sacred Weapon and Turn the Unholy 
  • Protection from evil and good being an oath spell, then at higher levels just constantly being under the effects of the spell is a very powerful combo as it makes fighting half the creatures in the game a lot more manageable
  • Battlefield healer: Spells like Beacon of Hope, Lesser Restoration, and Sanctuary (all oath spells) are all great ways to keep damage at bay and help your allies stay in the fight longer

Choose Oath of Devotion if:

  • The “white knight” vibe appeals to you
  • You want to be good at combat but GREAT at combat against fiends and undead
  • You plan on staying close to your allies while in battle as many of the best features and spells Oath of Devotion has are proximity-based


5. Oath of the Ancients (Excellent)

Branch, Tabaxi Oath of Ancients Paladin by u/PaintedKing

Our next subclass is Oath of the Ancients which is essentially a druid-themed subclass for paladin. They align themselves with goodness and righteousness but not because they value law or order or good per se, but because they value life and growing things. Think knight meets hippie.

What Oath of the Ancients excels at:

  • Fey and Fiends: The channel divinity option Turn the Faithless is designed with fey and fiends in mind, essentially turning them the same way Turn Undead works for clerics
  • Controller: Ensnaring Strike and Nature’s Wrath both work to slow and otherwise impede the movement of your enemies in battle
  • Undying Sentinel: Staying alive even when brought down to 0 hit points, also never feeling the effects of old age is nice, too

Choose Oath of the Ancients if:

  • You like the nature-y aesthetic but don’t want to play a druid
  • You enjoy being useful both on and off the battlefield
  • You like talking to animals (Speak with animals is an oath spell)

Oath of the Ancients is an excellent choice due to its combat ability, powerful channel divinity options, and awesome subclass features like Undying Sentinel and Elder Champion (if your character lives long enough to get to them).


4. Oath of Conquest (Excellent)

Straukarr - Oath of Conquest Paladin by u/SinneJ

Next on our list (and closing out the “excellent” category), is the Oath of Conquest. These paladins are the opposite of Oath of the Ancients in that they value one thing and one thing only: victory at any cost. They are generally not nice people, even sometimes referred to as tyrants. Some Conquest paladins even serve the Nine Hells as their love of order outweighs their love of mercy.

What Oath of Conquest excels at:

  • Paragons of Might and Violence: their channel divinity option Conquering Presence frightens creatures that get too close and their other option, Guided Strike can all but guarantee a hit when they need it most
  • Battlefield Controller: Oath spells like command, hold person, fear, and dominate person make for a powerful ally when fighting multiple foes or a single, powerful one
  • Invincible Conqueror: The 20th level feature for Oath of Conquest is one of the best in the game, granting resistance to all damage, improved critical hits, and adding another attack on top of the Extra Attacks you already have

Choose Oath of Conquest if:

  • You want to play a character to whom nothing matters more than victory
  • You like to manipulate your foes before crushing them
  • You might mess around and join the legions of the Nine Hells

Oath of Conquest is an excellent choice for any paladin build but more so for the stalwart, immoveable champion of war.


3. Oathbreaker (Best)

The Harbinger - Oathbreaker and Divine Souls Sorcerer by u/Kriss-Kringle

While not really an oath, Oathbreaker is for sure the most interesting if not the strongest paladin subclass in D&D 5e. Paladins draw divine power from adherence to their oath and when that bond is broken (in pursuit of some dark desire or ambition), they can sometimes become Oathbreakers (it’s really up to the DM and the player whether they switch classes or become an Oathbreaker). 

What Oathbreaker excels at:

  • Undead Controller: One of the Oathbreakers channel divinity options is Control Undead which allows them to take control of one undead creature for up to 24 hours which is a very long time to have such a creature to your bidding
  • Dark Magics: an Oathbreaker’s oath spells include Inflict Wounds, Crown of Madness, Blight, and Contagion, which are all sufficiently nasty and powerful spells in their own right but not needing to prepare them every day (which is how oath spells work) makes a huge difference
  • Paladin Rage: Okay, it's not actually rage like barbarians have but Supernatural Resistance does give the Oathbreaker resistance to most physical attacks that are non magical in nature (which is crazy)

Choose Oathbreaker if:

  • Well, choosing Oathbreaker is something you’ll need to discuss with your DM but flipping the script on the stereotypical holy warrior is always a good role playing opportunity
  • If your character dies as an oathbreaker you might come back as a Death Knight npc!
  • You want an excuse to play an evil character who can still cast Divine Smite

Oathbreakers are the first of the “best” category because of their nasty oath spells, overwhelmingly positive subclass features, and crazy channel divinity options.


2. Oath of the Watchers (Best)

Maleen O’Scar, Twilight Cleric, Oath of the Watcher Paladin by u/RobustaArt

Next in our “best” category is Oath of the Watchers. Where Oath of Devotion is designed for specifically fiends and undead, Oath of the Watchers is designed with aberrations, fey, fiends, undead, and celestials in mind which is why it is so high on our list. They are uniquely qualified to deal with these types of monsters due to their awesome channel divinity options and great subclass features.

What Oath of the Watchers excels at:

  • Censuring the extraplanar: the channel divinity option Abjure the extraplanar works like turn undead but for all the aforementioned enemy types
  • Support: the Watcher’s Will channel divinity option temporarily extends your expertise in resisting these things to your allies
  • Seeking out the extraplanar: oath spells like alarm, detect magic, see invisibility, and scrying all help the Watcher paladin seek out and identify extraplanar creatures

Choose Oath of the Watcher if:

  • You know the campaign will include creatures like fey, Mind Flayers, Beholders, devils, demons, undead, etc.
  • You want to be able to extend buffs to your allies 
  • You want to be able to cast counterspell (always a good option and not all paladins have access to it)

Oath of the Watchers gets the #2 spot on our list because of its across the board powerful abilities and features while also leaving room for some awesome role playing. Why does your character know so much about these creatures? How do they treat these creatures when they encounter them? Food for thought.


1. Oath of Vengeance (Best)

Illyria, Oath of Vengeance Paladin by u/mastercryo1

Coming in at #1 is the Oath of Vengeance. This paladin subclass is undoubtedly the strongest and most popular one in D&D 5e because of its very few drawbacks and wonderful combat abilities. Really the only downside to this subclass is that they have semi limited utility outside of combat but that is outweighed greatly by its utility IN combat.

What Oath of Vengeance excels at:

  • Killing: alright that was kind of a cop out but seriously, between hunter’s mark, vow of enmity, relentless avenger, and Soul of Vengeance, the Oath of Vengeance is really good at making things dead
  • Debuffing and buffing: with spells like bane and banishment as oath spells while still having Lay on Hands like all other paladins, there's very little the vengeance paladin can’t do in combat  
  • Battlefield movement: relentless avenger, misty step, and dimension door are just three of the Vengeance paladins tools to move quickly and dynamically in combat to both ensure they can stay near enemies when they want to or escape from them quickly if they need to

Choose Oath of Vengeance if:

  • You really like Batman, the Doomslayer, or John Wick
  • You want to be the most martially effective paladin in the game
  • Your character is tall, dark, and brooding

Thank you for reading! I hope you've enjoyed this list and may all of your 20s be natural!

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As a bard, Mack enjoys the simple things in life like giving his friends buff and giving the orcs debuffs. A fantasy nerd at heart, he spends his free time exploring any magical world he can find.
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